Congestion Pricing and Investment Requirements

Over the last two decades, electronic tolling technology has advanced to the point where using pricing mechanisms to manage transportation demand in the same way as other products and services appears viable. In broad terms, “congestion pricing” would charge drivers for the use of crowded roads, with the price varying by the level of congestion. This price mechanism would encourage individuals to drive less, travel at different times, choose less congested (and therefore lower priced) routes, or change modes, thereby reducing congestion, and reducing the need for capital investment (in particular, new highway capacity) to achieve congestion reduction goals. In the 2006 "Conditions and Performance Report" (hereafter, the “C&P Report”) the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) evaluated the extent to which congestion pricing could reduce the need for highway infrastructure investment. In broad terms, the analysis considered “universal” congestion pricing, where users of any road in the nation’s highway network would be charged a fee that would enable that road to remain congestion-free. They found that congestion pricing applied in this way could reduce the amount of needed highway investment from 16 to 28 percent, depending on the baseline investment level. It would also produce an average of $24 billion to $34 billion (in 2004 dollars) per year in gross revenue. In this report, Section 2.0 reviews the analysis done for the 2006 C&P Report, which addresses a nationwide system of “universal” congestion pricing. Section 3.0 provides an overview of the economics of congestion pricing, broadening the topic beyond that of “universal” pricing to other, more limited approaches that are likely to be proposed in cities, regions or states. The authors address practical considerations of implementation and impacts in Section 4.0, covering topics such as policy motivations; short- and long-term impacts; equity issues; institutional and public acceptance issues; and implementation considerations. The authors summarize their conclusions with respect to the C&P Report and broader implications in Section 5.0.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This report was requested by the AASHTO Standing Committee on Planning. It was prepared as part of NCHrP Project 08-36, Task 85, National Cooperative Highway Research Program, Transportation Research Board.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Cambridge Systematics, Incorporated

    100 Cambridge Park Drive, Suite 400
    Cambridge, MA  United States  02140
  • Authors:
    • Buxbaum, Jeffrey N
    • Cohen, Harry
  • Publication Date: 2009-6-25


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Bibliography; Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 56p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01152759
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 18 2010 8:06AM